Sister Judy is rarely in her office.
She is always on her toes — going up and down Wellspring’s steep staircase to fetch birthday gifts, diapers and other needed items for Wellspring guests.
She lets no crumbs go to waste and thrives on making others feel valued.
Her quiet confidence in others spins the cogs and wheels of Wellspring like a well-oiled machine. Sister Judy is Wellspring’s Executive Director.
She likes to dine at Pancake Circus and graduated from Stanford with a Masters in Mathematics Education. She taught High School math, chemistry and physics for 24 years in Phoenix, Chicago and Sacramento. Her greatest pride as a teacher is that her students felt comfortable around her. She liked to joke around with them.
“I loved teaching and my students and I learned from one another,” she said
After teaching, she worked at Loaves and Fishes, a homeless survival center, and then left for Tanzania to teach English to Rwandan refugees. She returned to Loaves and Fishes before accepting her position at Wellspring.
“I just feel like it is a real blessing that I’m here,” she said. “It’s one of the many blessings in my life. Every ministry that I have had has been a real gift and Wellspring is certainly one of them.”
What does “hospitality with dignity and love” (Wellspring’s official mission statement) mean to you?
“It means welcoming anybody who wishes to come here for whatever reason,” she said, “It means accepting them unconditionally. Just providing warmth and acceptance and happiness … I think hospitality is listening in a lot of cases because there are just going to be many problems that we cannot solve, but we can certainly listen and acknowledge our support and acknowledge their situation. If we can provide assistance in some way that’s great, but lots of times we can’t. And I think hospitality with dignity also means safety. Wellspring is a safe place for people and openness — just openness.”
And how do you see Wellspring doing that each day?
“I think the welcome that people receive at the door is the beginning of that hospitality and then all of our programs provide services with dignity and love – the Nutritional Meal Program, Children’s Corner. the Safety Net Services and the Women’s Wellness Program,” she said.
“So many of the guests really identify with particular volunteers and are just so grateful to them and donors. You know we would not be here without our donors – whether it is financial or material items for our programs.”
“And the other thing is you will often ask people, ‘Why do you keep coming here for so many years?’ and the common answer is “You are my family” and you know we certainly try to respect the variety of cultures that we have and celebrate ethnic days of celebration. We try to do that as much as possible, to give women and their children and therefore their families – a sense of belonging and that they know that they are important and matter. They matter — a sense that they matter and that they do have something to which they belong to. I think that is really important.”
What do you enjoy in your role?
“I guess I just enjoy it all,” Sister Judy said. “One very important reason is the staff. I enjoy being with the staff – such a special staff, they give me life. The fact that they are so competent and open and willing to do whatever is needed. They have a lot of energy and compassion and commitment to our mission. I am also very inspired by our volunteers and guests. Everything – all of what happens here makes it a place you want to be. Whenever I’m not here I always want to know what is going on. I don’t want to miss out on anything. You know there is hard work involved and no day is the same – my theme song, ‘We are nothing if not flexible.’ But, the joy and the teamwork makes everything worthwhile and a blessing. And the smiles on the guests faces and whether we share their joys or their sorrows or their losses — whatever it is, it is such a blessing to share all of those things.”